Thailand will host the very first Air Race 1 in the Asia-Pacific region. Multiple races will take place at the U-tapao Royal Thai Navy Airfield in the Eastern Region on 19-20 November, 2016, marking another milestone in Thailand becoming the sports hub of the region.
The Sports Authority of Thailand under the Ministry of Tourism and Sports will be the host for the Air Race, which features eight airplanes racing simultaneously around a set course at speeds of up to 450 kmph. Air Race 1 is regarded as the aircraft equivalent of Formula 1 racing and is becoming increasingly popular around the world.
H.E. Kobkarn Wattanavrangkul, Thailand’s Minister of Tourism and Sports said, “This is a highly exciting sporting event, and we are very proud to be the first nation in the region chosen to host it. The fact that Thailand is increasingly chosen to stage large-scale shows like Air Race 1 is evidence that the kingdom is seen as having the infrastructure, expertise and safety measures in place to ensure successful and memorable events. I know the Air Race 1 will be a fun and exciting event, and I look forward to seeing it return to Thailand in the future.”
Scene from the Air Race 1 in Spain in 2015. Photo credit: Lloyd Horgan
Air Race 1 makes use of specially designed planes built to specific parameters in terms of the wing area and engine size. These are then raced around a 5-km circuit. It takes all the skill of the pilots to guide their plane to the finish lane ahead of competitors. Air racing began in France in 1909 and now takes many forms with followers from all over the world.
The event at U-Tapao is aimed at promoting the sport in Thailand and across the region in preparation for the Air Race 1 World Cup event in November 2017. On 19 November, there will be qualifying heats with the final races taking place on 20 November. Spectators are allowed to witness these adrenalising races on both days. The ticket fee is 300 Baht and only sold at the event.
Another scene from the Air Race 1 in Spain in 2015
Mr. Yuthasak Supasorn, Governor of the Tourism Authority of Thailand said, “Air Race 1 is just one of many exciting sports event in the calendar for locals and visitors to enjoy. Thailand abounds with venues, facilities and expertise, and we expect to attract even more large-scale events while helping everyone to enjoy sports and activities like cycling, team games and running nationwide.”
An agreement has been signed to further develop the U-tapao-Rayong-Pattaya International Airport for commercial purposes and to serve as an aviation hub for the region. The development is in line with Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha’s “one airport, two missions” directive, under which the naval-operated airport, some 30 km from Pattaya, would serve both security and commercial missions. The first phase includes the construction of a new passenger terminal capable of handling three million
passengers a year.